Dalt Wonk will be signing books at The Art of Giving at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Tuesday, December 6, 5pm.
French Quarter Fables Volume II is a totally new collection of delightful tales! It doesn’t matter which volume you start with. Once you have one, you’ll want the other. They’re habit-forming!
Volume I sold out but we’ve just received the second printing.
Please join us to celebrate the release of French Quarter Fables: Volume I at Garden District Book Shop, 2727 Prytania St., New Orleans.
“So what are you supposed to be?” by Jeanie Riess
The writer, illustrator and former Gambit theater critic Dalt Wonk once found himself confronted by a Duena, the Pope and the Whore of Babylon all on a Mardi Gras day. All three of them were male. “It knocked me out,” he says. “The Whore of Babylon had a big belly and was fabulous.”
Costumes, he explains in a brief introduction to his new set of oversized playing cards, The Riddles of Existence, are visual riddles to solve, and Mardi Gras costumes are some of the most complex and original. The cards can be played in a group or alone and feature original watercolors and quatrains by Wonk, who says, coyly, “I am not a visual artist, but I can do something that has a certain amount of charm if I stay within my limits.”
French Quarter Fables by D. Eric Bookhardt
Anyone who has spent time in the French Quarter knows it always has been a great place for people watching. Living there can be like living inside the pages of a book of complicated short stories where all of the characters are unexpectedly connected. Observant residents are inevitably privy to all sorts of secrets that can never be revealed for fear of invading someone’s privacy. Although I never asked him point-blank, I have long suspected my colleague Dalt Wonk created his French Quarter Fables as a way of sharing his observations as discreet parables with elegantly funky animals standing in for human characters. All have a ring of truth about them, but rendered allegorically in verse they assume a near-mythic quality that is illuminating without being personally compromising.
Like the Louis XIV-era fabulist Jean de La Fontaine, Wonk writes in a deceptively simple style that sounds like either a charming children’s story or cautionary words to the wise. Like de La Fontaine, Wonk’s fables become more elaborate as they progress, so by the time we get to The Malamute and the Seal, they assume Somerset Maugham-like overtones. Here Wonk’s colorful animals make perfect foils for human foibles.
Nocturnes by Eugenie Dalland
One of the poems that appears in Nocturnes is called “For Chopin”: “Time pauses before the web / your seanced fingers spin, / glistening and so delicately attached / to anything solid, it consoles like perfume.” Frédric Chopin’s own nocturnes were freeflowing, rhythmic pieces, often lyrical, sometimes melancholy, and always very expressive. His use of the pedal gave to the composition a greater sense of emotional expression by sustaining the resonance of the played note. While Nocturnes, a collection of poetry and images, is not a tribute to the pianist, it is, in part, inspired by the same sensibilities. There is a sustained resonance in the book, too, one that is rarely achieved nowadays by most visual art books. Nocturnes is the first publication of Luna Press, founded by New Orleans-based photographer Josephine Sacabo and poet Dalt Wonk. It exemplifies their belief in the importance of interdisciplinary associations, and specifically illustrated books. “The best and most natural appreciation of a work of art,” reads their manifesto, “may be a response to it in another.” Partly inspired by Charles Baudelaire’s concept of “correspondences” in the arts, this belief in the natural interrelatedness of all art forms provides the key to understanding the rapport between image and text in Nocturnes.
Nocturnes by D. Eric Bookhardt
New Orleans Art Insider
At a time when the entire publishing industry is undergoing a sea change as the relative merits of digital and print media sort themselves out, there are certain books that will be unaffected by the turmoil. Nocturnes, a large format volume of Josephine Sacabo’s photogravures accompanied by Dalt Wonk’s poems, is a classic example. The reason is simple. As a beautifully produced limited edition it is something of an art object in its own right, a collectible that, while pricey, is still affordable to anyone who truly wants one. In it, Sacabo’s stunning images appear as mysterious, even romantic, paeans to the power of dreams, darkness and the lunar light of the psyche. Dalt Wonk’s deftly evocative poems, each printed on translucent vellum, segue seamlessly into her haunting visions distilled from the raw materials of her long personal history in the French Quarter, southern France and Mexico, as well as her lifelong immersion in the works of great artists and thinkers through the ages, from Rainer Maria Rilke’s poems to Gaston Bachelard’s philosophical ruminations on reverie.